Rev. Rich Lang
A pocket of resistance helps push for the common good
Last year we opened up the Common Good Cafe as a space to host civil, civic conversations about matters that matter. We brought in speakers to stimulate the conversation. They would talk for 30 minutes or so, and then we’d break up the gathered into small groups so that everyone could get a chance to talk. After about 20 minutes or so we would then re-engage the speaker with a typical Q&A session, hopefully including a call to action and next steps.
The point was to empower and uplift, to encourage and to move us toward higher ground. It was always a great joy to feel the magic and energy of listening to a gathered group focusing on things of importance. Although it might not rival the emotional ecstasy of a Seahawks game, it still left a lingering feeling that we human beings are basically good and decent, and that this country of compromised values is still worth sacrificing for and loving so that a greater good can evolve.
This year we’ve already had a few trial runs. Former city council candidate Dorsal Plants and I engaged in a group discussion about the then impending military strikes planned for Syria. We were modeling how to disagree yet still respect each other. We were trying to move past preaching to the choir and go a bit deeper. Conversation with only the like-minded gets stale. Our goal is to try to build a bridge to that other side where we don’t usually venture.
But the conversations do have a moral base. We value, and therefore host, events of resistance to empire. For example, the cafe has recently helped host events by Rising Tide, a coalition that is organizing resistance to the coal train, and WaAmend, a newly formed coalition attempting to change the U.S. Constitution so that “person rights” of corporations are eliminated. The cafe also hosts groups that train folks to practice civil disobedience. We like to think of it as Seattle’s version of the great old Highlander School of resistance that helped fuel the civil rights movements of the ’50s and ’60s. Our goal is to deconstruct the lies of imperial thinking and offer up a better vision for better people in a better world.
The cafe is open on Thursday evenings and is located downstairs at the University Temple United Methodist Church, 1415 43rd St. NE at 7 p.m. (There’s free parking at U Bookstore.) On Oct. 17, Ray McGovern, a retired CIA intelligence officer who once interpreted the daily briefing for Presidents Reagan and Bush I, will be our guest. Ray was at the forefront of resisting the lies propagated by Bush II and has helped organize Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, an organization dedicated to analyzing and criticizing the misuse of intelligence in government affairs. Ray will also be preaching at University Temple on Sunday morning, October 20, at 10:30 a.m. Come and see.
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